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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 21, 2011 6:00pm-6:45pm EDT

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and preach their sermons. you know, and because there's a market they have a lot of commands and demands that the aristocrats place on them, the missionary lives are always have to drop everything and so new dresses for the queen and the chiefly women. i mean, there's so much new -- and had to build houses and build the churches. they were so overworked and overburdened that they really didn't have time to do any coup d'├ętat. but their children, their children, you know, their children did. and religion really had very little to do with it. because, like the man after the overthrow who becomes the president of the republic of hawaii, he and the queen they went to the same church and he taught sunday school and she led the choir. you know, she was a solid christian. and, in fact, in her memoir,
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which i recommend, it's called hawaii store by hawaii's queen, she writes the book. it's her story but it's also she is publishing -- publishing it in 1898 to argue against annexation. she uses two arguments against annexation, well, several, but two of them being this doesn't seem christian. and she basically implies god will smite us if we do this to her little country. and the other one is it doesn't seem in keeping with, you know, the demands of the democratic republican government. ..
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professor mario dinunzio to be roosevelt reading festival. [applause] >> it's a pleasure in honor to be here of this wonderful place to. let me cite to quotations from franklin roosevelt that i used that may get us started. get better the occasional false of a government that lives in thet of
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spirit a of charity than the of consistent and omissions of acos government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. government frozen in its own indifference. and that is from his acceptance speech for renomination in 1936. thank you. the second reads the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much. it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. those two quotations i think capture something of the mind of africa roosevelt and of what i call the rose about revolution. the book is constructed in two parts. an extended essay on the place of fdr and the new deal in the larger context of american
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history since the original revolution. the second part is the collection of tea writings of his speeches, almost all of them as president or running for president. one of them his 5 beta kappa speech at harvard was 3 presidential. i selected them because they seem to be the key expressions ideology that historians don't recognize that they support the argument i am going to represent. this is not a collection of new details about the new deal. the new deal has been well told. it is a look at basic developments from a new perspective. the perspective that reveals much about fdr and his mind and
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his work to an audience many of whom have forgotten or never learned of the critical role of roosevelt and his revolution in american history. let me elaborate. franklin d. roosevelt in the third american revolution argues that roosevelt avenue the achievements resulted in a revolutionary change in american life which ranks with the work of washington and lincoln, thus the third revolution. it was a revolution that grew not by chance through pragmatic political response to the crisis of the great depression but rather it resulted from a longstanding and well developed political ideology and embedded religious convictions. the 18th-century enlightenment
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phrase adopted but never fulfilled by the french revolution was liberty, equality and fraternity. roosevelt's revolution worked to achieve the third of these ideals of just government which emerged from the thinking of the enlightenment but which matured and america. all three of these ideals have been part of the american democratic experience, washington's revolution focused on liberty for the americans. liberty from the british and the establishment of democratic liberties. lincoln's revolutions that the course toward genuine equality. franklin roosevelt's revolution emphasized as never before the importance of fraternity to the health of a democracy. he brought to life the idea that
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americans working in common efforts would provide for the general welfare with greater justice and security. what constitutes a historic revolution and why does the work of roosevelt qualify? a revolution changes the way people live. not for lifetime or superficially but in significant ways for generations. this roosevelt accomplished. so did the original revolution led by george washington. it introduced a genuine democracy to the world for the first time and created a new nation dedicated to the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. skeptical european ruling classes laugh that the americans and they also worried. they laughed because they thought the americans foolish peasants. called them farmers in america.
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should vote and hold office? that was simply not a reasonable 18th-century european idea. the enlightenment wanted rational government. very difficult to find and enlightenment thinker who was a genuine democrat. the idea that peasants should participate in government was not an enlightenment idea. they worry because they thought the american experiment might spread to there monarchical shores. none of the three revolutionary ideals were fully achieved immediately or completely. the struggle was a long one and at moments discouraging that the ideals born of the original revolution work indelibly set as the goals of the american democratic experiment. liberty, a free people
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functioning in a democratic polity was the work of the original revolution and the decades that followed. by the era of andrew jackson in the 1830s universal suffrage was the norm in america. it was white and male to be sure but no other nation in the world came close to qualifying as a genuine democracy. the british have a parliamentary government but the electorate was so tiny it could not legitimately qualify as a democracy. european elites had good reason to worry because the american success was a broad participation in representative government became the model for reform groups in europe and radical groups in europe from britain to russia. reformers repeatedly invoked the american revolution more than the french as an example worthy of imitation.
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but the stunning irony of that age revealed that this most democratic nation in the world was one of the last to abandon the institution of human slavery. this was a contradiction that could not indoor. the revolution for equality demand an end to slavery and the recognition of fundamental human dignity and that was the work of abraham lincoln. lincoln's great proclamation inaugurated the march not only toward emancipation but also toward realizing the ideal of full equality for all citizens. immediately after the civil war the first civil-rights act in american history declared the quality of citizenship. the civil war amendments promised that equality constitutionally but it took 100 years of struggle to fulfill that promise and more to perfect
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it and the lives of all americans change. the third revolution, led by franklin roosevelt, ranks i believe with those of washington and lincoln in the profound changes that worked in the lives of so many americans. aimed to fulfil that third ideal of the revolution, fraternity. the roosevelt revolution raised the proletariat into the middle class and we calibrated the material standards by which americans could expect to live. the american experience, the american democratic ideal called for communal, fraternal action to provide for the general welfare. american historical experience always combined individual efforts with neighborly cooperation for the common good. we often think of american development in terms of rugged
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individualism and indeed individualism was important especially in the earliest days of colonial america. if you word a rugged, tough be personal strong individual you probably died. but think of those days of nineteenth century america. bond -- bar and raising was the neighborly operation. removing huge sums from farmland. there was a rugged individualism that was consistent fraternal cooperation. otherwise there would not be survival. working people could live in decent housing, for higher education for their children, and leisure to labor and rest secure in old age were the conscience goals of the roosevelt revolution and all were achieved.
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roosevelt understood that a healthy democracy demanded social and economic justice if it were to survive. this was especially so in the 20th century world of fascism and communism when many were inclined to despair about the survival of capitalism and democracy. roosevelt's revolutions saved them both. it is astonishing to read and recall how many important americans, journalists, commentators were despairing of democracy in the early 30s as the depression went on and seemed endless and how many important americans talk about mussolini's trains running on time and how much hitler was accomplishing in germany and how the future was in russia. it was franklin roosevelt who saved democracy and capitalism
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and the capitalists have never forgiven. beyond national economic survival from the disastrous crash and depression which alone would have marked his administration a success, roosevelt abscission looked beyond the immediate economic recovery. he set his sights on permanent structural changes in the relationship of americans to the economic system and to each other. in a democracy, prudence and justice demanded that economic power strong enough to imperil the whole society must be subject to public scrutiny and regulation and for a long time it wasn't. roosevelt understood an increasingly impersonal and materialist industrial economy, poverty and insecurity could endanger the very survival of a democratic society, thus the new
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deal. let me of letter agencies produced during the famous hundred days and after was designed to harness the uncontrolled power of capital in the public interest. in what came to be called the second new deal, security and freedom became the objectives of the effort for minimum-wage laws, unemployment compensation and social security provisions for the disabled and aged. the g i bill of rights redirected the lives of millions of americans. this was the work of the roosevelt revolution. as was the work of washington and lincoln war was needed and it came in the years that followed under truman and kennedy/johnson years. for one progressive objective called for at least as far back
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as theodore roosevelt's 1912 campaign, a program for national health care was still waiting. since the 1960s we have experienced something of a drought in truly progressive legislation with a growing but erroneous assumption that government is a problem and not a solution. to see government itself as a problem is a dangerous idea in a democracy. in looking to the sources of the roosevelt revolution, the major biographies and histories of the new deal were not as clear as they ought to have been on two points. the importance of religion and the influence of a well-developed ideology on the political thought and action of franklin roosevelt. there is repeated testimony by those who knew him best
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including eleanor of the importance of religion and particularly his christian faith on his ideas. this is confirmed by his own words including those in speeches and public documents included in the book which constitute an important part of it. roosevelt acknowledged the guidance of his father and the instruction of his head master for his moral and religious convictions. he repeatedly invoked the religious imperative to economic justice. tea often cited religious forces for his thinking and he was very much the child of the social gospel, so influential in america during his formative years. we all know franklin roosevelt as among other things a shrewd political operator and political
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thinker. one of his speeches he quotes a papal honoring the 40th anniversary of leo xiii. both of these deal with economic and social justice and rail against the excessive concentration of power. knowing his audience, roosevelt quoted the to defend his program knowing his audience very well, he then proceeded to quote a rabbi and protestant minister in their speeches to the same effect. from his schoolboy train to his adult life religious ideas shaped his thinking of politics to an extent greater than is usually cited by historians and biographers. i haven't been able to find much of that. even friendly historians often
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characterize fdr as a practical politician who produced a pragmatic response to the crisis of the great depression. the emphasis is on his pragmatism and he is seen as relatively innocent of well fought definitive ideology. the evidence of his life, his admiration for his cousin theodore's presidency, his deep commitment to reform in the wilson administration all helped shape a political ideology that ripened in his term as governor and then as president. he became a confirmed representative of the ideas of the progressive movement of the early century and brought his agenda to his state and nation. an examination of the ideas expressed in his speeches and public papers included in the book reveals a carefully reasoned political ideology that
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informed and guided those practical choices that he made shaping the new deal. elements of that ideology included a commitment to a democratic society whose health and even survival demanded a government strong enough to restrain the unchecked power of capital for the common good. a government responsible enough to provide the general welfare and security of the people, government that would work towards the ends and just redistribution of wealth produced by the work of all and a determination to end special privileges of the few that were built into the existing system. roosevelt repeatedly referred to the economic royalists and those of special privilege. he was convinced much of his opposition was resistance to giving up special privileges.
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these ideas inspired and impelled the achievements of the new deal. one is drawn to consider the importance of the roosevelt revolution in part by attempts to dismantle it. we understand a good deal about fdr and his work by the enemies he made. one is struck by the visceral intensity of those who opposed him. and extreme and impasse and conservative generated real hatred for the man. epithets like socialist, communist, un-american, spewed maliciously even from people who knew better. hard times, we know, feed demagogues. bitter opposition to fdr came from the full spectrum of conservative politics in the 1930s.
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the president believed himself to -- much of the resentment because he challenged position of privilege that had so long been held by american elites without serious challenge. one of my favorite lines came from a historian who cites a connecticut country club and i will find it here. connecticut country club adopted a rule barring mention of the president's name in the club to avoid a health menace for its members. in the 1930s the connecticut country club was a meeting place for the elite. i think perhaps one of the consequences of the roosevelt revolution is democratization of golf.
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al smith became anti roosevelt and the formed the liberty league. his motivation may have had something to do with the fact that he thought he should have been nominated in 1932. but his language against roosevelt by the 1936 election was ugly. it seems clear that what began in the gilded age was confirmed in the 1930s, that is the complete identification of american conservatism with laizzez-faire capitalism. the nineteenth century brought a new superpowerful industrial and finance capitalism to the united states. monopolists like john d. rockefeller and j. p. morgan
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became the leader of our finance establishment that wielded more day-to-day power than the government itself. without the inconvenience obligation to answer to the judgment of any electorate.
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for the sale of the pond but the point of the story of course is that the president of the united states turns to a private banker to bail out the government. that was more power than the government itself had. the social primghar and as some of that era dictated the corporate competition even if it resulted in some of nalubaale must remain free of restraint, especially government restraint. the result produced fabulous returns for the investing class is at the cost of great hardship for the working masses. conservatives became what it to morg och chat an unfettered capitalism was indispensable toe the survival of that marriage has endured. these were ingrained ideasward. these were ingrained ideas
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raised to the level of feel logical dogma with little apparent concern for their intensely materialist character. these are ideas roosevelt challenged and discarded and thereby he saved both capitalism and democracy. this conservatives have never accepted and how he did it they have never forgiven. roosevelt's new deal, his revolution in some way became the victim of its own success. it produced a new and broader definition of middle class. it opened opportunities for working class and especially the uncounted numbers of the children of the working class to live well and prosper. it created a new generation of americans who lost touch with or never learned the history of what besides their own good luck and effort, made their material
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success possible. for many of us support for progressive political philosophy tends to recede in interest proportion to hour in come. as prosperous americans, many of us have forgotten the great gift of the roosevelt revolution and we forget at our peril. thank you. [applause] >> if you have questions -- [inaudible] >> i thought it was so clear there was no need.
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>> given where we stand now with respect to the political climate, what is going on and -- it seems almost that there is no progressive attitude that drives the politics. it all seems to be, even when it is, quote, beneficial to people it seems to be driven by a different kind of philosophy in terms of what is it going to get me when, and the question basically is is there the opportunity to get back to a progressive kind of philosophy that plays a major role in the political nature that we are going to see for the next 20 or 30 years? >> i have been waiting for a
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long time. i think that is what i meant when i talked about the attempted dismantling but also the new deal being a victim of its own success. prosperity has a tendency to make conservatives of us all. i was commenting at lunch a little while ago that we have not had a surge of progress of legislation since the 1960s, over 40 years. i don't know of any period of american history since the revolution where we have gone 40 years without a surge of reformist activities. the revolution itself and that generation a few years later, the age of jackson was called the age of the common man and a reform movement for every social and economic ills that you could think of.
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a few years later the great reform was anti slavery and then the civil rights amendments. you get a period of drought in the gilded age but that gives away to populism in the progressive movement of to the 1920s. conservative 20s gives way to the new deal. truman and kennedy/johnson. i used to think that maybe this was a progressive country that periodically got tired of reform and settled into a conservative period but basically a progressive country. these 40 years are beginning to convince me we are essentially a very conservative country with only occasional bursts of progressive activity. i would like to see -- i am not all that optimistic.
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>> you open your presentation with a remark or a quotation decrying in difference and yet i think some would say franklin roosevelt as the war progressed was seemingly indifferent to the fate of the jewish people under the nazis. could you comment on that? tea change it is a serious question outside the area of my study. it has more to do with the horrors of the war. there are a couple of areas where roosevelt and his administration are frequently criticized. the complete justice of that criticism is the problem. some of the talks this morning
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we heard about how slow the new deal was and how reluctant roosevelt was in terms of extending black rights and to a certain extent that is a legitimate criticism. but one must also judge in terms of context and in terms of black rights the solid south was entirely democratic and he would not have gotten very much past if he couldn't get those southern votes so that was a restraining force although there were some important key moments of commitment to black rights by roosevelt and especially by eleanor. your question has to do with very complicated matters involving the war, the question of bombing the camps, welcoming jewish refugees when in fact they were turned away.
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one must acknowledge this. i am a believer in american exceptional as an but there are ugly chapters in american history and we have to confront them. but we have to confront them in context and it is too complicated a story to give you a brief answer. >> back to your original concept, that there has not been a lot of progressivism in the last 40 years, could we say media had a part in pushing some of the progressive things that did happen prior to that and if so, how has the new media of television, much of what is happening today and the coming of the newest media, the internet, might play into what could happen with pushing progressivism? >> the internet is a powerful instrument and given what is
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happening around world, masses of people are capable of expressing themselves and getting movements going. whether it is going to happen in this country i don't know. all the stories in newspapers recently about how little our young people know of american history does not encourage one. but you are right about the media. you are right and wrong about the media progressing progressive ideas. the media was important. especially because this was the dawn of the age of radio and roosevelt was the master of the fireside chat. he went directly to the people in those fireside chats that were enormously powerful in generating support. we also know that the newspaper media which dominated the age, working reporters in the field tended to be friendly in part because of the great access he gave to them and in part because
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they liked him but the publishers were almost uniformly opposed. at one point in the book, the chicago tribune refused to mention the president's name on the front page no matter what the news was during the campaign in 1936. of course we know the -- what is the magazine? literary digest? is that what i am thinking of? that did the poll in 1936 that confident we predicted that alf landon was going to sweep the election. it was an accurate poll that expect -- reflected the publisher's prejudices but they didn't cheat it said they polled people who own automobiles and had telephones. in the middle of the depression those people were going to vote
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for of landon. ralph landon. >> with 1% of the people in america voting more than a 30% of the wealth, how is it that the public at large is demonized by the concept of the sharing of the wealth? >> that is a real puzzle and as a teacher i can remember going through the gilded age years when the rockefellers and the morgans swept everything to the top and we have really returned to that idea of 1% controlling this huge percentage of the wealth of the country and the thought then to me was why did
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the middle class say anything because they paid of lot of the price for the situation they lived in. perhaps because they thought they might one day join the ranks of the richest. but the silence of people who were not rich in the face of the thievery of the rich with the puzzle for the gilded age and i am just as puzzled now. i don't know why. why a proposal to raise the tax rate of those people at the highest level of income gets great hostility from one side of the political debate and silence from the other side seems to me that somebody who might be president now might think that there would be some political advantage in that but maybe
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there isn't. >> quick question. you made mention that you haven't really seen any sort of liberal legislation and there hasn't been much over the last 40 years since johnson. obama in his first two years did pass some legislation, universal health care, there has been some wall street reform. a lot of it has been bitterly opposed. just in terms of looking at where -- what his accomplishments as they are our, where the thing that stands? they see them taking hold? do you see them as not being significant? >> i didn't mean to leave the impression that there has been no progress of legislation. there was some under clinton and you pointed out what has happened in the first two years
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of this administration. but not a surge of progressive legislation and even given what we have had the enforcement of the restraint on capitol comes very late. i am not sure they are as vigorous as they could be even now. we repealed the glass-steagall lacked -- act. we repealed the restraints on the savings and loan industry and savings-and-loan industry collapsed. in the 2,000s we repealed restraint on the banks and the bank's collapse. i don't know how long it takes to learn the lesson. but the idea of more regulation is not a popular one. this administration has done some but i wouldn't qualify it as a surge of progressive legislation. as an old admirer of the new deal i find it a little bit
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discouraging. but i didn't mean for this to be an essay on current events but a perspective on fdr. but inevitably my wife keeps telling me that this book should be a best seller. i won't quarrel with that. her argument, lessons for us today. >> time for one more question. >> i don't know if this had been addressed. how does this address contemporary critics and historians that maintain that the depression was logged by roosevelt's policies? >> i would say immediately they
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are welcome to their erroneous opinion. i would direct them to the evidence. by 1936 all the numbers were going in the right direction. and one thing we sometimes forget about roosevelt was he once called himself that kind of liberal because of that kind of conservative. in some ways particularly economically he was a traditionalist. those presidential advisers, that keynesian economics which is counterintuitive, you are going broke, not enough money is coming in, lower taxes and spend more. you certainly don't want to do
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your personal budget that way. everything is going in the right direction. maybe you can go back to sensible economics and balance the budget. there was a recession in 1937 and all the numbers went the wrong way again. he called a special session of congress that enacted something like $5 billion spending program which was enormous for those days and by 1939, on want to emphasize this point, all the numbers were going in the right direction again. the kevin harvick is he never ended the depression. it was the war and more spending that did it. 1939 the great war spending hadn't begun yet and unemployment was under 8%.
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all the numbers were going in the right direction, profits were up and production was up, steel production was up. this was before the government spending for the war. the evidence is that indeed roosevelt's policies ended of the depression and would have ended the depression even without a war had he continued in the way that he posted by the franklin d. roosevelt presidential library museum in horned park new york. for more information about the library, visit
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from the 2011 chicago shorty and printers or let test tim barker talks of the taliban shuffle.


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